2006. 06. 30.
The central issue of the press conference was Croatia’s preparedness for EU accession. Both Members of the European Parliament agreed that Croatia’s place is within the European Union and expressed their hope that the country can join the bloc as soon as possible. “Croatia has always belonged to the core of European culture”, said Pál Schmitt referring to the precious historical and cultural heritage the country had given to Europe.
“Croatia has made huge progress recently – the reforms and the stability achieved present an excellent example and can be a model for other Balkan countries” said Schmitt. “Croatia’s full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal – spending €3.6bn on returning refugees is exemplary. The country’s policy concerning the protection of minorities, giving a special focus to the Roma is to be commended.” The economic growth is predicted to be 4.6% in 2007 and the inflation rate is also low. According to the Hungarian Co-Chairman of the EU-Croatia JPC, it is absolutely wrong to consider the country as a burden on the European Union’s ‘absorption capacity’ – just the opposite: “Croatia could play a key role in Europe in the future: it will become a ‘bridge’ towards the Balkan region”.
Presenting the view of the EPP-ED Group, Mr Schmitt said his group fully supports the country’s accession and encourages Croatia to continue with the reforms.
Hannes Swoboda MEP, who will prepare the report on Croatia’s state of preparedness on behalf of the European Parliament, assured the journalists present at today’s press conference that it is already a fact that Croatia will become an EU member. “It is only a question of when”, said the Austrian MEP, emphasising that it should happen sometime between 2009-2011.